The new moon was sighted in Jerusalem today. Since they are 12 or so hours ahead of us, it is night there while it is day here, so even though the new moon has not been seen yet in the Western Hemisphere, we should by all rights see it tonight if they have already seen it in Israel. (Look above the western horizon at dusk; you should see a very thin sliver after the sun sets). This new moon marks the beginning of the first biblical month of the year – Abib, or Nissan. On the 14th of Abib, we celebrate Passover.
If this evening marks the start of the 1st day, then the evening of April 20th marks the start of the 14th day, so at our house we are eating our Passover supper on Monday, April 21st, at the end of the 14th day. The next day, then, Tuesday, April 22nd, is the first day of Unleavened Bread, and a High Holy Sabbath of rest. Nothing New Press will be closed. That makes Sunday, April 27th — the Sunday which falls during the week of Unleavened Bread — Resurrection Sunday! It is the Feast of the First Fruits of Barley, that holiday which gives thanks to God for New Life! Monday, April 28th, closes this holiday season: it is the 7th day of Unleavened Bread, and a High Holy Sabbath of rest. Nothing New Press will be closed.
I did some research into the different dates different people use for eating the Passover supper. Apparently, since the dispersal of the Sanhedrin (which set the biblical calendar in ancient days) there have been different methods for determining where we are in the calendar. The most common one used by the Jews was established by Hillel after the majority of the Jews were dispersed from Judea by the Romans. It is a complex mathematical system which allowed Jews all over the world to know with a fair degree of certainty when the 1st of Nissan was, even if they were very far from Jerusalem and had no way of receiving communication from there of the new moon sighting. According to this calendar, the Passover supper will be eaten on the evening of April 19th. And other groups use other calendars; apparently there are 16 different calendars in use!
This year the Hillel calender is two days off from the actual position of the moon. Nowadays, however, with the Internet, we have instant communication and instant access to nearly every point in the globe. I received an e-mail announcing the sighting of the new moon in Jerusalem earlier today in real time as it was still hanging in the twilight sky over Jerusalem. How amazing is that!
To be continued …